Saucony Endorphin Elite Review: Brilliant, But Uncompromising

Does Saucony’s most ambitious carbon racer to date deliver the goods?

Saucony Endorphin Elite on grass
(Image: © Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Our Verdict

The Endorphin Elite is Saucony’s best racing shoe ever, and one of the best on the market, but a sky-high price makes it tricky to recommend.


  • Very fast ride
  • Light and agile
  • Bouncy PWRRUN HG midsole


  • Firmer than other options
  • Very expensive

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Saucony had a great year in 2022, releasing some of the best running shoes across several different categories. That included the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3, which established itself as one of the best carbon plate running shoes.

Clearly Saucony has no plans to rest on its laurels because in the first few weeks of 2023 it has launched its most ambitious carbon racing shoe yet. The Endorphin Elite lives up to its billing as Saucony’s best racer – but a high price and an uncompromising ride means it’s hard to recommend over other super-shoes.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Review: Price And Availability

The Saucony Endorphin Elite launched in January 2023 and will be available to buy from 21st February. At $275 in the US and £280 in the UK, it’s one of the most expensive carbon plate running shoes on the market, with only the Nike Alphafly NEXT% 2 having a comparable price. The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is considerably cheaper at $225/£210.

Saucony Endorphin Elite

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Design And Fit

The chief difference between the Saucony Endorphin Elite and the Endorphin Pro 3 is the introduction of PWRRUN HG midsole foam. It’s firmer and bouncier than the PWRRUN PB foam used in the Pro 3 and Speed 3 shoes, and provides more energy return.

The Endorphin line is known for its Speedroll rocker geometry and Saucony has made it more aggressive in the Elite. You’re tipped onto your toes rapidly, aided by the new carbon plate, which has a slotted forefoot to allow a little more flexibility.

As you’d expect from a super-shoe, the stack height goes close to the 40mm limit set by World Athletics. Saucony lists it as 39.5mm at the heel and 31.5mm at the forefoot for an 8mm drop.

The upper sports a new design, with several cut-outs in the thin knit mesh to reduce the weight. It looks a little odd, but I found that it held the foot securely even when racing, and the Elite fit me well in my normal size. There’s a small blob of padding at the top of the heel tab, but otherwise every part of the upper is as stripped back as possible.

Saucony Endorphin Elite

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

The rest of the shoe follows suit. There’s a big midsole cut-out that reveals the plate, and rubber is used sparingly to cover the forefoot and one side of the heel. There’s a lot of exposed foam, but I’ve not seen any undue signs of wear after 65km in the shoe.

The Endorphin Elite weighs 7.7oz/219g in my UK size 9, which is about the same as the Endorphin Pro 3. It’s lighter than chunkier carbon shoes like the Nike Alphafly NEXT% 2 and Adidas Adios Pro 3, but a little heavier than the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 and Asics Metaspeed Sky+.

Saucony Endorphin Elite showing sole

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

How I Tested This Shoe

I have run 65km in the Saucony Endorphin Elite, including a 10K race and a parkrun, plus some speedy training sessions – the longest run was 21km. I have also tested all three generations of the Saucony Endorphin Pro, and almost every carbon plate running shoe.

Running Performance

One reason I love the Endorphin Pro 3 is that, for a carbon shoe, it has a relaxed ride. It’s very fast as you’d expect, but the soft foam and Speedroll rocker create a smooth and comfortable ride, which means the Pro 3 can handle pretty much any kind of run while still being a great racing shoe for any distance.

The Endorphin Elite does not share that trait. It is an all-out racing shoe, with a firm and uncompromising ride that throws you forwards and demands you run fast. And I love it. There are certainly caveats, but when you’re going for it in a race or hard training session, the Elite feels special.

My first run in the shoe was a parkrun hampered by icy spots where I had to tiptoe to avoid slipping over – the Elite’s grip is not amazing, but all shoes struggled that day including trainers with thick outsoles. When I could open up and run without fear of falling over, the shoe felt very fast and I was itching to race in it again.

Saucony Endorphin Elite showing sole

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

My next opportunity was a 10K event in London’s Olympic Park. It wasn’t the ideal night for racing and the course was four twisty laps congested with other runners, but I held a good pace for a 33min 41sec finish. As I tired in the final few kilometres the aggressive ride of the Elite helped to keep my legs ticking over and my pace didn’t really drop.

However, I did feel like my feet had taken a beating in the race and my legs were more sore the following day than I’d usually expect after using a high-stack carbon shoe like this. The Elite is a bit harsher than other options, something I also noticed on a 21km training run in the shoe. 

As you tire, the stiff action of the plate and midsole moving you onto your toes begins to wear. It’s a shoe I’d be wary of using for a marathon, because I feel more comfortable options like the Nike Alphafly NEXT% 2 would protect my legs better deeper into the race.

It’s not uncomfortable, and when you’re running well it feels great, helping to move you forwards efficiently. There’s no doubt it’s a fine new racing option – but it has launched in the face of some stiff competition.

Is The Saucony Endorphin Elite Worth It?

It’s a tall order for a new $275/£280 super-shoe to be worth buying when there are several generations of brilliant and well-loved carbon racing shoes to pick from, with older models available for under half their RRP at times.

Looking purely at performance, the Saucony Endorphin Elite is Saucony’s best racing shoe, offering a faster, more efficient ride than the Endorphin Pro 3. It’s also up there with the best racing shoes available, especially for shorter events, though many will prefer softer options such as the Alphafly 2 or Adidas Adios Pro 3 for the marathon.

However, the margins between the top carbon shoes are wafer-thin, and when comparing the Elite with the Endorphin Pro 3, it’s clear the latter will serve most runners just as well – and it’s considerably cheaper. Then there’s the fact that the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is regularly reduced to under $200/£200. I’ve written an in-depth comparison of the Saucony Endorphin Elite vs Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2, but in short, can I recommend buying the Elite over the Vaporfly at that price? I cannot.

If money is no object and you want to try one of the most exciting carbon shoes available, the Elite won’t disappoint. It’s brilliant, if uncompromising. However, if you just want a great racing shoe, you can get that for a lot less.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.